The Senate unanimously passed a bill March 25 that would provide over $2 trillion in new resources to combat the health and economic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with the House tee’d up to vote on the bill Friday.
The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed Wednesday evening includes $10.5 billion in emergency appropriations for the Pentagon, along with authorities intended to provide flexibility and support to the defense industrial base.
It also includes a $500 billion Economic Stabilization Fund that includes $25 billion in direct lending specifically for passenger air carriers, $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and $17 billion for “businesses critical to maintaining national security.”
The Senate passed the bill 96-0. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill Friday morning.
Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners told investors in a Thursday email that while there is no risk that FY ’20 appropriations would be used to fund pandemic response costs, “analysts and planners should expect to factor [CARES] Act changes when assessing underlying DoD growth in FY ‘21 budget authority and in FY20-22 outlays.”
The two leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) issued supportive statements Wednesday evening after the passage of the bill.
SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the bill “will give the Department the tools and resources it needs to continue these efforts, including supporting the Navy’s hospital ships Mercy and Comfort, and injecting $1 billion for Defense Production Act to help with pandemic recovery.”
“I want to highlight the flexibility we are providing to the Pentagon to support the defense industrial base, especially mission-critical small businesses, subcontractors and workforces,” Inhofe added.
SASC Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said the $1 billion issued for the Defense Production Act would help “bolster domestic supply chains, enabling industry to quickly ramp up production of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and other urgently needed medical supplies, and billions of dollars more for federal, state, and local health agencies to purchase needed, high-in-demand equipment.”